During a recent visit, Dale took me on a tour of the contemporary, fast casual-style buildout — which features a neat brick facade, a sleek open kitchen, with colorful signage, and a stainless steel counter, where you can watch as your order is being made. Right now, the only options are takeout or dining on the front patio. But look for indoor dining soon.
“This is new construction,” Dale noted. “All my other businesses are in old buildings, and that’s awesome. But I have seen that it’s really nice to have a clean slate to be able to do it just the way you want.”
Explaining the original Athens concept, Dale said he dreamed up the kind of restaurant he’d want to go to if he were having a busy day.
“Honestly, it came from really selfish reasons,” he said. “I wanted something that was healthy and fresh and quick. I felt like a lot of folks were doing vegetables. The National is white tablecloth, and the veg plate is over $20. I wanted something that was everyday. I needed that in my life.”
The build-your-own menu allows you to customize a plate with one base (such as brown rice, super greens or sweet potatoes), two sides, one protein and one sauce. Or you can opt for a vegetable version with one base, three sides and one sauce. And for those who can’t decide, the seasonal chef selections, which change five times a year, have proved popular.
I really liked the hefty Boxcar, which is always on the menu, and has been a staple in Athens since Maepole first opened. It eats like a hearty Southern meat-and-three, and is loaded with sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans and onions, pulled pork, and Sriracha-honey sauce.
For something lighter and brighter, a current seasonal offering, Spring Forward, mixes super greens, broccoli, chopped salad, chicken, a half avocado, and buttermilk dressing.
“We find in Athens, most people want to build their own,” Dale said. “When we had the soft opening here, we had a lot of people do the chefs selections. But today it’s about half and half. I think as people get more comfortable with the concept, they’ll probably start doing more build your own.
“We want a healthy restaurant, but also a place that anybody who walks in is going to find something they like. In Athens, we’re adjacent to an industrial area, so we wanted a guy in dirty coveralls to be able to come in and find something he wants to eat. As well, someone who is vegan will find a lot of things to like here, too.”
As for drinks, look for Boylan’s fountain sodas, house-made Hibiscus Limeade and Watermelon Greaterade, sweet or unsweet tea, Ginger Yerba Mate brewed in house, Montane sparkling water, and Figment Kombucha. Desserts include Condor milk and dark chocolates, and Maepole Chunk cookies.
Dale noted that all food and beverages are packaged in compostable or recyclable containers, except for some lids and rubber bands used for takeout orders.
“Being a concept that’s going to produce a lot of waste, we wanted to be mindful of what was happening in that area, too,” he said.
11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
Plates, $6.99-$12.99; beverages, $2-$6; desserts, $1.95-$3.50.
Currently takeout and patio dining only; masks and social distancing required.
72 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-907-4355, maepole.com.
Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.